RURAL MENTAL HEALTH: Farmer Federation President Stuart Armitage encourages farmers to ask the question 'are you bogged mate?'
RURAL MENTAL HEALTH: Farmer Federation President Stuart Armitage encourages farmers to ask the question 'are you bogged mate?' Laura Hunt

Tackling rural suicide rate rise with a question

"ARE you bogged mate?”

It's the latest question rural residents are asking one another.

A new suicide prevention campaign launched by the Queensland Government in collaboration with the Queensland Farmers Federation and leading rural mental health advocates, aims to boost awareness of suicide prevention services available.

QFF President Stuart Armitage said the rates of suicide tend to increase rurally at any given time.

"Rural suicide rates are one of the greatest tragedies of our time, and we all need to play a part in addressing the issue,” he said.

There had been a 9.1 per cent increase in the number of Australians who died by suicide, recent ABS data revealed.

"Just like getting bogged, with depression there will be times when you need to ask for help to pull you out,” Mr Armitage said.

Across the country, men were around three times more likely to take their own life than women, with male farmers dying by suicide at rates significantly higher than non-farming rural males.

"The further you move from the coast, the higher that figure climbs,” he said.

External factors leading to poor mental health in rural men, include droughts, floods, unsustainable rising input costs, falling commodity prices, family issues and pressure from banks, all of which can be compounded by the expectation of living up to the family legacy.

Rural health advocate and campaign organiser, Mary O'Brien said the conversations needed to begin on the farm.

"We know that rural men often face unique challenges and stresses that can lead to conditions developing, and that they also face challenges in accessing support,” she said.

"If just one person can have that conversation and make a difference, then these efforts are worth it.”

QFF joined with Ms O'Brien, and agricultural industry development and fisheries minister Mark Furner to launch the bridging campaign at the end of September.

"The program aims to boost awareness and start a conversation with the broader community about the rising issue of depression and suicide rates among men in rural areas,” Mr Armitage said.

"We are confronting the challenges that country men face daily, talking about mental health, and lighting the path to support.”

With support from government, mental health support organisations, key industry associations and community groups, the trends could be overturned, he said.

"We have all been bogged at some point,” Mr Armitage said.

Depression and anxiety are common conditions, and with the right treatment most people recover.

The Queensland Government has invested $9.6 million over four years in a suicide prevention in health services initiative.

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For support contact Lifeline on 13 11 44 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.